One of the rare times I was asked to move to another location to breastfeed was actually by my mom. We were at a Lao wedding and she gently suggested for me to go to the bathroom. First, I was like, “Mom, that’s disgusting; this is your grandbaby breathing in air poop particles.” She revealed a bit of embarrassment, if that’s even a thing for my mom, when she motioned to the table of skeezy Lao men behind us (i.e., my dad’s skeezy Lao friends). Second, I was like, “Wait, why would these Lao OGs, who were breastfed by their own mamas in Laos be skeeved?” and then I remembered: ‘Murica.
I find it hilarious how there are U.S. laws to protect the right for mothers to feed without harassment, lawsuits, or jail time. “Yes, we realized society has just recently shamed the natural act of feeding from your breasts so give us a bit to write up these laws so you can face public outcry with vague legal backing.” #Okay. In many other places in the world, there are no such laws that protect the right to bare lactating breasts in public. Why? Because it’s not a big deal. In Laos, I asked my friend Kelly from The Frog & The Moon, who is an American mom living in Laos, about the breastfeeding laws there and she said there were none. Well, of course not. Here in the United States, there are laws abound! I mean, that’s good to avoid jail food while hangry and all but how dumb. Breastfeeding laws are just dumb in theory.
According to National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), “forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.” Allow? You allow me to whip my own boob out because my child is hungry while everyone else is eating too? You allow me to respond to a crying child by sticking a breast in there? You allow me to police my own body parts? The following are the examples of breastfeeding in public laws here in Washington:
2001: Breastfeeding in public is not considered indecent exposure. (RCW 43.70, 9A.88.010)
2009: Breastfeeding mothers are protected under state anti-discrimination law, and can breastfeed their children in places of public accommodation such as restaurants, pools, theaters, government buildings, museums, libraries, busses, or parks. (RCW 49.60.030 and 49.60.215)
In almost 40 months of straight breastfeeding between and tandem of two kids, I really have taken the law in my own hands. Please note I have never had an in-real-life incident with harassment with breastfeeding in public. At least not to my face anyway. I have gotten a few head shakes, a lot of stares, and many more quick stare-then-look-aways. It really wouldn’t matter anyway because I actually have the law on my side-boob. Even if the law did not protect me, there are a number of ways of how to nurse in public the right way:
- Wear a nursing cover.
- Don’t wear a nursing cover.
- Use a bottle.
- Don’t use a bottle.
- Perfect your bitchy resting face.
- Don’t be a bitch.
- Find a room.
- Don’t find a room; never a restroom because airpoopparticles.
- Go everywhere with your 6-foot husband, who’d crush anybody for looking at you sideways while breastfeeding the baby in public.
- Go places without your significant other.
- Grow long hair (my recent method).
- Don’t grow long hair.
- Don’t care what people think, say, do when you are responding to your hungry baby when out living your life in public.
- Seriously, don’t give a shit.
I’ve actually done all those ways to be comfortable in public because I was a new mom surrounded by jaded society. It wasn’t until I learned one important thing: I’ve lived my life caring about others (my parents, my boyfriends, my friends) thought about me and my body and the only person who should be bothered is the person whose boobs are attached to. If you are modest about the amount of skin you are showing, you have that right. If you live in the bottom depths of Seven Hells and your baby gets too hot under a cover then ditch that thing. If you prefer a quiet spot in a lounge room with comfortable chairs, sit back and nurse. If you just do not give a shit, then go on not giving a shit because you aren’t doing anything wrong. Not only does the law say so, but you do too. I have done all those things because I do not prescribe to one radical be-all-end-all in breastfeeding and I have never had a single problem.
Law’s On Your Side Boob.
*You may share any images from my blog upon the condition you credit/link to thelaotiancommotion.com. I like when you share but love when you acknowledge the creator. Thank you; don’t be a dick.
Breastfeeders and non-breastfeeders: What do you care about breastfeeding in public? Do boobs bother you? Are you modest?
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